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Not Above the Law Coalition Statement on National Commission to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last week, the Democratic chairman and Republican ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee reached an agreement on the creation of a 9/11-style commission to investigate the violent attack on the Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump. The Commission’s work will culminate in a final report to be issued on December 31, 2021, with findings regarding the facts and causes of the January 6th insurrection, along with recommendations to prevent future attacks on our democratic institutions. Ahead of today’s vote on the Commission (H.R. 3233), organizations from the Not Above the Law coalition issued the following statements:

Lisa Gilbert, executive vice president, Public Citizen: “The attack on the Capitol is too important to rely on an ineffective investigation. We applaud Representatives Katko and Thompson for their bill creating a centralized bipartisan Commission that can dig deeper into the details of what occurred.  This model offers the best path to get to the truth and to protect our democracy against future similar attacks; we urge all Members to support this important legislation.”

Ben Jealous, president, People For the American Way: “The domestic terrorist attack on our Capitol on January 6 was planned and executed with encouragement from the highest levels of our government. The American people deserve answers about how this happened, why it happened and what we will do to ensure our democracy is never threatened in this way again.  Every member of Congress needs to treat the events of January 6 as a warning sign of what’s to come, and a bipartisan Commission is the first step toward accountability. The House and Senate must pass this legislation. And then, congressional leaders, including Senate Minority Leader McConnell and House Minority Leader McCarthy, have the responsibility to appoint commissioners who will be relentless and clear-eyed in their pursuit of the facts and the truth.”

Fred Wertheimer, president, Democracy 21: “The mob storming of the Capitol on January 6, 2021 was an unprecedented attack on our democracy and our system of constitutional government. Accountability and transparency are demanded here for the American people to know the full story of what happened here and why, and to recommend the steps that need to be taken to ensure this does not happen again.  Democracy 21 applauds the bipartisan legislation to create an independent bipartisan Commission, sponsored by Representatives Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and John Katko (R-NY). We urge all Representatives to vote for this essential legislation when it comes to the House floor this week .”

Brett Edkins, political director, Stand Up America: “The January 6 insurrection reminded every American that democracy is fragile and it must be protected. We can’t do that if we simply move on and try to forget that it ever happened. Every member of Congress, regardless of party, should support this independent, bipartisan commission to fully investigate the events of that day and the causes of the insurrection, and to take steps to make sure this never happens again.”

Noah Bookbinder, president, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW): “Just like the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the riot at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021 did not materialize in a single day. The January 6, 2021 attack was the culmination of months of conduct by private and government actors that placed our democracy in grave peril. We urge Congress to support the creation of a commission that can provide a full and unflinching account of how our democracy was placed in such tremendous jeopardy, as well as recommendations that will help prevent the recurrence of this type of attack. Truth and accountability are essential to the future of our democracy.”

Traci Feit Love, president, Lawyers for Good Government (L4GG): “The events of January 6 were profoundly damaging to our republic. To begin to heal we must first, as a nation, come to terms with what happened on January 6. That’s why over 15000 Americans in our network, including more than 8500 attorneys, have called for Congress to enact a truth commission to investigate the unlawful activities of January 6. As a nation, we must not downplay this insurrection at the seat of our government, and we must hold those responsible to account.”

Eva Paterson, president, Equal Justice Society: “The January 6 insurrection was an attack on our country and an assault on the votes of Black and Latinx people. The attack showed what treason looks like: Confederate flags, symbols of white supremacy, paraded in the halls of our Congress, cheered on by a sitting President. We saw the traitors on January 6 leave on their own two feet while elsewhere in the country police target, detain, and kill Black people and violently repress those protesting for equal justice. We must hold accountable those that sought to overturn the will of the people.”

Austin Evers, executive director, American Oversight: “American democracy was attacked and the American people deserve the truth about what happened. An effective, bipartisan commission is the clearest path to get answers about the January 6 insurrection. Members of Congress from both parties have an opportunity and a duty to stand up for our democracy and clearly state that such violence must never happen again.”

Ian Bassin, executive director, Protect Democracy: “Preventing another January 6th—or worse—requires that the public and lawmakers are equipped with a truthful, complete, and shared understanding of what happened and why. The bipartisan national commission co-sponsored by Representatives Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and John Katko (R-NY) would do this essential work. The survivability of our democracy demands it.”

Karen Hobert Flynn, president, Common Cause: “The American people deserve a full accounting of the facts and causes—the truth—relating to the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol. The racist, violent mob subverted the peaceful transfer of power, marching through the halls of Congress with Confederate flags, bear spray, cudgels, and zip ties and causing multiple deaths in an unsuccessful attempt to overturn the presidential election. The assault on Congress as it met to certify the election was an attack on voters, especially Black and brown voters, who showed up in record numbers to cast their ballots in the midst of a global pandemic. We commend Chairman Thompson and Ranking Member Katko for their bipartisan leadership in crafting this legislation, and urge its swift passage so that the Commission can get to work immediately on an independent, bipartisan investigation and report.”

Courtney Hight, democracy program director, Sierra Club: “Mere months ago, we witnessed armed insurrectionists waving the flags of white supremacy attack our democracy. A commission alone will not address the actions which led to this deadly day, however, it is critical we begin investigating this unprecedented attack on our democracy. Investigating January 6th should not be a partisan issue, and we implore every member of Congress to vote for this critical legislation in an effort to uncover the truth.”

Rachel O’Leary Carmona, executive director, Women’s March: “The insurrection at the Capitol was an attempted revolt against our democracy. But it was also the natural result of years of attacks against women, people of color, immigrants, LGBTQ+ Americans, religious minorities, and anyone else who threatens the status quo that Donald Trump and his Republican lackies needed to win elections. An investigation into exactly what occurred on January 6th, and the weeks and months leading up to it, is necessary for our country to begin healing, and we’re grateful that Congress is stepping up to do its job and commission it. But alone, an investigation is not sufficient. From online chatrooms about the attack to the swastikas and other Nazi paraphernalia on display during it, we know that violent white supremacy is at the center of this rot. Without rooting that out, too, even the most thorough investigation will not fix the cracks in our country that January 6th laid bare.”

Dana Gold, Democracy Protection Initiative director, Government Accountability Project: “Neither democracy nor truth should ever be partisan. A bipartisan commission to investigate and analyze the events that led up to and culminated in the insurrection of January 6 will give our nation the reckoning and repair it needs to both protect our democracy from future threats based on disinformation about election integrity and restore value to truth. We urge not only members of Congress to support this bipartisan 1/6 commission, but we also urge any employees with evidence about wrongdoing related to the events surrounding that fatal day to come forward. Truth is the currency essential to ensuring that the investigation is based on full information and that its conclusions fulfill the tragic need to prevent ‘future domestic terrorist attacks against American democratic institutions.’”

Katherine Hawkins, senior policy analyst, The Constitution Project at the Project On Government Oversight: “The attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 revealed just how fragile our democracy is. This bipartisan commission would provide the objective review of the facts that this country needs right now, and will help the American people and our leaders prevent future threats to the seat of our democracy. We urge Congress to support this bipartisan commission and appoint members who will support a thorough investigation, and we call on the administration to fully cooperate with the commission’s probe.”

Nick Knudsen, executive director, DemCast USA: “Only four months ago, the US Capitol was attacked by a mob that sought to overturn the results of our democratic election and inflict violence upon the Vice President, Speaker of the House and other members of Congress. This is not a distant memory, but recent history that we will be doomed to repeat if we fail to fully understand what happened that day and what brought these events about. We strongly urge all members of Congress to support this bipartisan commission so that Americans can have all the facts, which will give us the best chance of moving forward together as one nation, indivisible.”